Despite the well-known dangers of asbestos, it is still frequently encountered in various industries. For example, mechanics may be exposed to asbestos when performing brake and clutch repairs. Construction workers can be exposed if they disturb asbestos material during the renovation or demolition of buildings.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces the following standards found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) to protect workers from asbestos exposure:
- 29 CFR 1926: Construction work, including alteration, repair, renovation, and demolition of structures containing asbestos
- 29 CFR 1915: Work in shipyards
- 29 CFR 1910: General industry, such as exposure during brake and clutch repair, custodial work, and manufacture of asbestos-containing products
The standards applicable to the construction and shipyard industries divide work activities into four classes, with Class I being the most hazardous.
- Class I: Removal of thermal system insulation and sprayed-on or troweled-on surfacing asbestos-containing materials or presumed asbestos-containing materials
- Class II: Removal of other types of asbestos-containing materials that are not thermal system insulation
- Class III: Repair and maintenance operations where asbestos-containing or presumed asbestos-containing materials are disturbed
- Class IV: Custodial activities where employees clean up asbestos-containing waste and debris
OSHA also enforces worker exposure limits for asbestos. Employers are often required to conduct exposure monitoring, although testing requirements vary depending on whether construction and ship work or general industry work is involved. Employers are also required to create controlled zones to protect employees where work with asbestos is performed. Access to these regulated areas must be controlled, with only authorized personnel wearing proper respiratory protection permitted to access it.
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